The ELCO football family prides itself on grooming young adults and preparing them for the real world. That purposeful emphasis makes saying goodbye even more difficult.

On a crisp Friday night at Twin Valley High School in Elverson, ELCO sent a group of 19 seniors off to bigger and better things, following a 35-7 loss to Twin Valley in the quarterfinals of the District Three Class AAAA playoffs. Four different players accounted for Twin Valley’s five rushing touchdowns, as the home team opened a 35-0 third-quarter bulge.

The ELCO Raiders take the field at Twin Valley. (Travis Boyd)

With the result, seventh-seeded ELCO concluded its solid campaign at 8-4. Along the way, ELCO set a number of program records, became the best version of itself, established lasting relationships and developed skills that will serve its members a lifetime.

The loss dropped ELCO to 3-8 all-time in the District Three playoffs and made Lebanon County teams 8-36 overall in the scholastic postseason. No Lebanon County team has ever won a District Three football championship.

Second-seeded Twin Valley moved to 10-1 on the year and into next weekend’s District Three Class AAAA semifinals.

“We talked about the lessons they learned from football, lessons that will make them better young people” said ELCO head coach Bob Miller of the post-game address to his team.

“They’re all going to do those things in life. They’ve proven themselves. Now they’ve just got to stay on track.

Coach Robert Miller goes over the highlights from the season with his team after the game. (Travis Boyd)

Read More: ELCO Raiders football program has Bob Miller’s fingerprints all over it

“It’s not about tonight,” continued Miller. “It’s about what we accomplished since heat acclimation (at the beginning of August). It’s about getting to the playoffs. But most importantly it’s about all the relationships and the standards they set.”

“This experience taught me a lot,” said ELCO senior running back Jake Williams. “It taught me how to follow and then it taught me how to lead. It taught me how to sacrifice to do great things. I respect the coaches a lot.”

Jake Williams (22) runs through a hole in the Raiders defense. (Travis Boyd)

Twin Valley had opened its five-score advantage in part by bottling up ELCO’s vaunted rushing game featuring Williams. But on the first snap of the final quarter, the prolific Williams finally broke loose, with a 47-yard touchdown run.

Jake Williams (22) blasts through the middle of the Raider defense for a long touchdown run. (Travis Boyd)

“If I had to use one word to describe this group it would be ‘resilient,’” said Miller. “They never backed down. They always kept fighting. You saw it tonight in the fourth quarter. When you’re in a fight and you get knocked down, the worst thing you can do is not get up.

“All of our losses were to good teams,” Miller added. “In some, we didn’t play well. In others, we had injuries.”

“They’re the better team,” said Williams of Twin Valley. “We gave it our all. Sometimes you’ve just got to tip your cap. We played our hearts out.”

Twin Valley racked up 343 yards on the ground in out gaining ELCO 426 total yards to 212.

Ben Grundy (32) catches a deep pass for a touchdown. (Travis Boyd)

After being held to 51 rushing yards in the opening half, Williams finished with 21 carries and 157 yards on the ground. He closed out his senior year with 30 touchdowns and 2,390 rushing yards, a total that represented the second most in the 50-year history of the Lancaster-Lebanon League.

Jake Williams (22) gets pushed out of bounds from Drew Engle (26). (Travis Boyd)

“We have some players coming back,” said Miller. “But I’m not sure if we can replicate Jake’s humbleness. It’s pretty cool how he goes about his business.”

“We were just hoping we could do what we do,” said Williams. “And hopefully get a win. But they’re a super good team.”

After the ELCO defense forced an early fumble, Twin Valley scored touchdowns on three straight possessions from late in the first quarter to the middle of the second to open a 21-0 advantage. Twin Valley enjoyed a 28-0 halftime lead and brought the mercy rule into play with 3:10 left in the third quarter, when it drove 92 yards in 13 plays to get Evan Johnson’s four-yard burst to the promised land.

“I want to focus on the big picture, the 48 minutes of heart that these kids just played,” said Miller. “The seniors are the ones who reset the standard and got this playoff experience to be an expectation. The leadership they showed is what’s going to stand out.”

“At the beginning of the season, we wanted to have fun every day, and you saw it in practice,” Miller continued. “These guys love being around each other. It was a solid defense that got us to this point. We wanted to have the best football experience possible, and I thought we did that.”

Lee Tobias (25), Carter Kemper (58) and Elliott Kreider (10) embrace after the final horn. (Travis Boyd)

“I’m just proud to be on this team with these guys,” said Williams.

“To be a teammate, to be a captain, it’s been an honor. It’s been great being best friends off the field and being teammates on the field. I’ll remember the ability we had to love each other and just watching people grow in faith.”

Mitchell Frederick (24) gets tackled by Ean Winchester (9). (Travis Boyd)
Paul Williams (51) just misses blocking the pass from quarterback Evan Myers (10). (Travis Boyd)
Mitchell Frederick (24) makes an open field tackle on quarterback Evan Myers (10). (Travis Boyd)
Ellis Gensamer (32) returns a punt and looks for running room outside. (Travis Boyd)
Griffin Kreider (30) makes a tackle on receiver Owen Rhoads (25). (Travis Boyd)
The Kreider brothers Griffin (30) and Elliott (10) attempt to block an extra point. (Travis Boyd)
Steven Rosado (3) rolls out to pass. (Travis Boyd)
James Prosser (19) makes a diving attempt to catch a pass along the sideline. (Travis Boyd)
Brady Stoops (33) tackles running back Drew Engle (26). (Travis Boyd)
Griffin Kreider (30) makes an interception after a pass went right through Jonathan LaBruto’s (83) hands. (Travis Boyd)
Mitchell Frederick (24) catches a deep throw as Tristan Bailey (5) defends. (Travis Boyd)
Elliott Kreider (10) goes high to catch a pass, but his broken hand can’t grip the ball as it fell incomplete. (Travis Boyd)
Jake Williams (22) tries to run away from the attempted tackle by Ben Savidge (55). (Travis Boyd)
Lee Tobias (25) defends a pass intended for Drew Engle (26). (Travis Boyd)
Elliott Kreider (10) goes to tackle Ean Winchester (9). (Travis Boyd)

ELCO Raiders

Read all our coverage of the Raiders here.


Head Coach: Robert Miller

Assistant Coaches: John Carley, Robert Williams, Wyatt Hall, Earl Thomas, John Wetzel

Jersey NumberNameGradePosition
1Jordan HartzJr.WR/DB
2Justin SmuckerJr.WR/DB
3Steven RosadoJr.QB/DB
4Shane BoyerJr.WR/LB
5Jackson ConnersSr.WR/DB
6Gavin BicherJr.QB/LB
7Phillip HorstJr.TE/DE
8Austin YeskoJr.RB/DB
9Ira GensamerSr.RB/DB
10Elliott KreiderSr.RB/LB
11Dom HerzogSr.WR/DB
14Ethan BusserJr.WR/LB
15Dante JamesSr.WR/DB
16Sara MillerSr.WR/DB
17Josh BlairJr.QB/LB
19James ProsserSr.WR/DB
20Jude WeaverSr.WR/DB
21Jonathan FisherJr.WR/DB
22Jake WilliamsSr.RB/LB
23Zane TrostleJr.RB/DB
24Mitchell FrederickJr.RB/LB
25Lee TobiasSr.RB/DB
26Landon GoodisonJr.K/P
28Butch SavichSo.WR/DB
29Issac HarmsSr.WR/DB
30Griffin KreiderFr.QB/DB
32Ellis GensamerSo.RB/LB
33Brady StoopsJr.RB/DL
34Victor FelicianoSr.WR/DB
35Dom ShaakJr.RB/DB
38Isaiah AngleySr.RB/DL
40Rhyce FaustJr.WR/DB
41Hunter MehaffeySo.WR/DB
42Elejandro WeisterSo.WR/DB
44Connor ShowalterSo.WR/DB
45J.C. DejesusJr.RB/DL
50Luke BaileySo.OL/DL
51Paul WilliamsSo.OL/DL
52Avery KurtzJr.OL/DL
53Alex Muniz CruzSr.OL/DL
54Robert LubinJr.OL/DL
55Brayden MalloyJr.OL/DL
57Mason SipeSo.OL/DL
58Carter KemperSr.OL/LB
59Tupac Vasquez-DislaJr.OL/DL
60Lukas MorascoJr.OL/DL
62Griffin FisherSr.OL/DL
63Asher GrierSo.OL/DL
64Dominick LattaruloJr.OL/DL
65Riley McDonaldSo.RB/LB
66Chris BatemanJr.OL/DL
67Ty LandisSo.RB/LB
68Jason ArnoldSr.WR/DB
71James KuhneSo.WR/DB
72Dawson OckerSr.OL/DL
74Cole HaagSo.OL/DL
75Bryce MaizeJr.OL/DL
76Josie Lebron-MatosSo.WR/DB
77Tyler ShaakSo.OL/DL
78Dylan ReddingerSr.WR/DB
79Ethan BretziusSo.OL/DL
80Tyce FiddnerJr.TE/DE
81Michael BooksJr.WR/DB
82Bryant AukerSr.WR/DB
84Noah BurgessJr.WR/DB
85Landon LeonardJr.TE/DE
87Chase HessJr.TE/DE
88Bryce HaislipSr.WR/DB
89Dalton PyzkaSo.TE/DE
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Jeff Falk is a seasoned journalist based in Lebanon, PA. He's a graduate of Cedar Crest High School, Penn State University, and a lifelong resident of Lebanon, born and raised. Currently, he is a feature writer for Engle Publishing in Lancaster, the editor of, sports director at WLBR...


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